'Don't Bust It'

For a decade, YRC Worldwide has been the top story in trucking — though not always for reasons the company would choose. Rapid expansion to near-Olympian heights — $9.9 billion in revenue in 2006 — was followed by a unprecedented plunge. No trucking company has lost so much money — more than $3 billion in total — and still survived.

One of the key players in the story is CEO James Welch, who returned to the company in 2011 to lead a turnaround that in his words, still has "a long way to go." Welch left YRC in 2007, convinced the company's prior management team, led by Bill Zollars, was on the wrong track. Since he returned, Welch has focused the company on LTL trucking basics, proclaiming "freight is not a dirty word."

In this short excerpt from a longer video interview recorded at the 2013 NASSTRAC Shipper Conference in Orlando April 23, Welch gets a bit passionate about the business at the core of his business. It's worth a second look.

My favorite quote: "There still is a basic need to pick the freight up on time, deliver on time (and) don't bust it." My second favorite quote: "We're not to the point where we can beam freight up, Scotty."

Although he may not be the first in line to buy Google Glasses, Welch is no technophobe. YRC Freight is rolling out handheld computers — tricorders, anyone? — for its truck drivers and working on improving other technology.

But Welch makes it clear YRC Freight is in business to move, well, freight, not data.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com and follow him at twitter.com/wbcassidy_joc.

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